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Ballot Access News

Democratic National Convention to be Chaired by Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (July 24, 2016, 01:58 PM)

According to this story, the chair of the Demoratic National Convention will be Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, not Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. There is probably no previous instance in history of a major U.S. political party switching presiding officers for a national convention, one day before the beginning of that convention.

Bangor Daily News Story on Maine Libertarian Party (July 24, 2016, 11:14 AM)

The Bangor Daily News has this story about the Maine Libertarian Party. It quotes the state chair, Chris Lyons, as saying that the news that the party is ballot-qualified for the first time since the period 1991-1992 has caused a great upsurge in support for the party.

The New Hampshire Libertarian Party also experienced substantial growth in 1991, after the party had unexpectedly and surprisingly become a qualified party in that state in November 1990 by polling over 3% for Governor. Within a few months, four state legislators had switched to the Libertarian Party. Thanks to Thomas MacMillan for the link.

Virginia Governor Says He Will Sign 13,000 Individual Certificates to Restore Voting for Ex-Felons who had Already Applied (July 23, 2016, 08:26 PM)

According to this story, in the middle, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe says he will sign individual certificates to restore voter registration rights for the 13,000 ex-felons who already had been put on the rolls by his earlier blanket proclamation. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.

Illinois Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case on Whether Redistricting Initiative Should be on Ballot (July 23, 2016, 04:13 PM)

On July 22, the Illinois Supreme Court accepted an appeal from proponents of the statewide initiative to set up an independent redistricting commission. See the group’s web page here. The lower court had ruled that it can’t be on the ballot, even though it has enough valid signatures, because the lower court felt the Illinois Constitution doesn’t permit that type of initiative. See this news story. Thanks to Thomas Jones for this news.

Libertarian and Constitution Parties File Brief in South Dakota Ballot Access Case (July 23, 2016, 01:26 PM)

On July 20, the Libertarian and Constitution Parties filed this brief in their ballot access case. The issue is the March 29 deadline for new parties, if the parties want to have nominees for all offices. A decision is expected soon, because whether the Constitution Party’s nominees for U.S. Senate and state legislature get on the November ballot depends on the outcome.

U.S. District Court Strikes Down Two Campaign Finance Restrictions in Austin, Texas (July 23, 2016, 12:38 PM)

On July 20, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel struck down two Austin, Texas campaign finance restrictions, but he upheld a third one. The case is Zimmerman v City of Austin, w.d., 1:15cv-628. Here is the 18-page opinion.

Austin law made it illegal for candidates for Mayor or City Council to receive campaign contributions, except during the period starting six months before the election. That law was invalidated.

Austin law also required candidates for Mayor and City Council to disburse their excess campaign contributions, during the three months after the election. The law required them to give the money back to their contributors, give it to charity, or the city. That was also invalidated.

The judge upheld the $300 limit on individual contributions. The fourth issue in the case was the law that limited the amount that a candidate could spend, that came from outside the city, to $36,000. The judge said the plaintiff did not have standing to challenge that law. The plaintiff is an incumbent member of the city council who is running for re-election. The evidence showed he had nowhere near that amount of contributions from outside the city, so as to him, the law made no difference, so he lacked standing.

Marijuana Party Files Petition for Nebraska (July 23, 2016, 12:47 AM)

On June 22, the Marijuana Party filed its petition to be recognized as a party in Nebraska. See this story.

Virginia Supreme Court Tells Governor that He Can?t Issue a Blanket Permission to Ex-Felons to Register (July 22, 2016, 06:43 PM)

On July 22, the Virginia Supreme Court, by a vote of 4-3, ruled that Governor Terry McAuliffe is not permitted by the State Constitution to issue a blanket order enfranchising ex-felons. The Constitution gives the Governor power to restore voting rights to ex-felons, but according to the State Supreme Court, he can only do it on an individual basis, examining each individual’s circumstances. The case is Howell v McAuliffe, 160784. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.

Libertarian and Constitution Parties File Brief in Kentucky Ballot Access Case (July 22, 2016, 09:34 AM)

On July 21, the Libertarian and Constitution Parties filed this brief in the Sixth Circuit, in their Kentucky ballot access case. The issue is Kentucky’s restrictive definition of a qualified party, and Kentucky’s lack of any procedure by which a group can transform itself into a qualified party in advance of any particular election.

Eighth Circuit Votes 2-1 that Initiative Proponent Doesn?t Have Standing to Challenge Nebraska County Distribution Requirement for Initiatives (July 22, 2016, 05:54 AM)

Nebraska requires statewide initiatives to have signatures from 5% of the last vote cast from at least 38 of the state’s 93 counties. On July 14, the Eighth Circuit ruled 2-1 that Kent Bernbeck does not have standing to challenge the county distribution requirement. The decision reverses the 2014 U.S. District Court decision that struck down the Nebraska county distribution requirement.

The case is Bernbeck v Gale, 15-1983. Judge Clarence Beam, a Reagan appointee, wrote the decision, which was also signed by Judge Bobby Shepherd, a Bush Jr. appointee. Jane Kelly, an Obama appointee, dissented. The dissent mentions the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that say ballot access laws can be challenged whether the plaintiff tried to get on the ballot or not. There is also an Eighth Circuit opinion that says plaintiffs need not try to petition in order to have standing, which the majority does not mention, although the dissent does. It is very likely that Bernbeck will ask for a rehearing en banc. The majority said he doesn’t have standing because, even though he has been active in promoting various Nebraska initiatives for decades, he didn’t actually try to put a statewide initiative on the ballot recently.

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